Goodwill Message By DG NBC, To The 71st General Assembly Of the BON, Holding In Port Harcourt

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On behalf of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), I will like to thank the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON), and especially the National Chairman, my dear brother and friend, John Momoh, for inviting me to present a goodwill message to this 71st General Assembly of BON. If I were not the Director General of the NBC, I would certainly have earned the right to be amongst the distinguished people gathered this morning in the Garden City, Port Harcourt. This is because I have been part of the history of broadcasting in our dear country, for the past 41 years, having been employed by the defunct Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (that NBC), as a young man; while between 1997 and 2002, as the pioneer General Manager of the KWTV, I was an active member of the BON General Assembly.
BON is a very important umbrella body for all the broadcasting outfits in our country, and its strategic place is about to be further enhanced; this is because President Muhammadu Buhari has recently approved 147 new FM radio licenses; 23 DTT Television licenses and three new national radio network licenses as well as two national television licenses. We have also received presidential approval for 16 Campus Radio stations; 24 Community Broadcasters as well as 3 Public Organizations FM licenses. This total of 213 licenses is the single largest number of stations ever licensed at any point in Nigerian broadcasting history. Our industry is opening up and the importance of broadcasting will become greater as a contributor to the economic fortunes of our country on the one hand, and as a platform of moulding the values of national development, on the other.
Just yesterday in Sokoto, I addressed the opening ceremony of the Political Broadcasts Workshop for broadcasting institutions in the Northern States of Nigeria. We have entered the season of heightened political activities, enroute the 2019 General Elections. In the past two years, the National Broadcasting Commission has set up many political forums with our licensees, in Kaduna, Kano, and Enugu, to sensitize the broadcasters about our roles, before the electoral season in the country. Against the backdrop of the challenges that we faced in the lead to the 2015 elections, in respect of the spiking of Hate and Dangerous Speech, that was freely broadcast on leading television networks, we commissioned a major study of Hate and Dangerous Speech in Nigerian broadcasting, using the 2015 General Elections as a case study. The Validation Report from that study has been presented in Kano; Enugu and Sokoto. We will similarly present the report very soon in Lagos and at a big national gathering of broadcasters and other national institutions in Abuja. The NBC has also gathered a lot of experience from elections in Anambra; Ekiti and Osun states, especially in the manner that broadcasting outfits have responded to the political process. The most difficult situation cropped up in Ekiti state; we were eventually forced by the circumstance to close down the state’s broadcasting organizations. I think against the backdrop of the Ekiti scenario, the state broadcaster in Osun state, opened opportunities for all the different political parties to air their views in a very equitable manner. There was another issue that surfaced in Ekiti state. The two major political parties, the APC and the PDP, paid huge sums of money to major television networks for the live broadcasts of their rallies. The politicians on both sides, made unguarded statements against themselves. For us at the NBC, we cannot be responsible for the statements that politicians make. But it is important to remind the broadcasting outfits in BON, that you would be liable for any violations of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code by the politicians that you broadcast live during political rallies. So it is your responsibility, not just to collect those huge sums politicians are willing to pay; but you must make them remember the liability you carry for decency in what comes out on radio and television.
Another major development in broadcasting, that I need to speak about at this gathering is related to the on-going work on the Digital Switch Over (DSO). We have concluded work on a complete digital mapping of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is a very vital platform for the speedy completion of the DSO. We now know the number of transmission sites that would be needed and all the strategic partners in the DSO can now adequately plan their place in the process: Set Top Box Manufacturers and the Signal Distributors and the broadcasters. The Signal Distributors have also prepared a Rate Card that would be presented to this Assembly for a robust discussion before it is validated. We have also approved a new Verimatrix Conditional Access System and an alternative platform, to enhance a competitive DSO process for our country. The signal distributors are working together now, as against the adversarial posture that was hurting the progress of the DSO in the past.
There have been several negative stories that have been generated around the DSO, especially in recent times, about the payment we made to one of our Signal Distributors, Pinnacle Communications. But those member organizations of the BON whose programs are part of the two multiplexes of thirty stations that we offer viewers in Abuja and Kaduna, know that Pinnacle Communications have installed some of the best transmission systems in the world for our DSO, in those two sites! We are launching very soon a Push Video-on-Demand pilot project in Abuja and Kaduna. This would offer opportunity to watch Nigerian films with our Set Top Boxes, as well assist the process of eliminating the menace of piracy which dogs the investment of NOLLYWOOD and KANNYWOOD; and this is being done on the platform of the facilities installed by Pinnacle Communications Limited in Abuja and Kaduna. I feel a disappointment, that most of you have not rallied in defence of the investment done and the quality of broadcasting, as well as the entire DSO process, that the false reports were targeted at undermining.
Finally, I will like to remind our colleagues of your licensing fees obligations to the National Broadcasting Commission. There are many broadcasting organizations here that have refused to pay, as and when due. Many of you canvass the unacceptable argument about the economic situation in the country. But license fees are statutory, and those who do not pay should not be on air! It is as simple as that! That is the iron logic of capitalist economics. I will like to remind all those who are owing the NBC these statutory license fees, that we would visit you very soon, before you collect the huge sums from the political parties. You would either pay us or you would be shut down and so would unable to collect money for political broadcasts! Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, 2019 should help us deepen the democratic culture in our country as well as consolidate all national institutions. For us in broadcasting we must become more professional and more responsible. That is the duty we owe the Nigerian people!
Thank you very much for your attention!

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